Chocolate Zucchini Not-So-Quick Bread

Bread Photo I’ve cooked, baked, dehydrated and fermented my way through rhubarb, English Peas, strawberries, blueberries and now zucchini, just to name a few wonderful organic foods we’ve harvested since May.

Summertime was once consumed by beaches, tennis and golf – a leisurely life – but since changing our food-style to whole, healthy, organic, local-farm foods, our routine has shifted. Now, our daily sustenance is dependent on Providence, rather than Safeway or Shaws.

That means we have to work harder, drive farther, and make it all from “scratch” including butter, sour cream, buttermilk, breads, sauerkraut, and old-fashioned half-sour dills.

Little voices chided me this past week when I brought home a huge crate of zucchini from our CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture), “Mommy, remember the yummy zucchini bread you used to make….”. That was years ago. Such amazing memories for some things and not others, like who spilled the water on the cherry end table……

They were remembering a zucchini quick bread I often made, which relies on baking soda and/or baking powder for its lift and rise instead of modern baker’s yeast, or traditional sourdough starters.

Baking Soda – Blessing or Curse?

When baking-soda was first introduced, over 200-years-ago, bread-baking was revolutionized, speeding the filling of hungry bellies. Short-cuts often come with a price, however. Such is the case for modern quick-breads which do NOT offer the healthy benefits of traditional sourdough breads.

Quick breads are more difficult to digest, not as nutritionally-rich, and deplete, rather than restore digestive enzymes.

Be Kind To Your Grains

The “why” and “how” about grain-soaking is provided in this very thorough Weston A Price website article, Be Kind to Your Grains.

Digging out my “Baking Illustrated”, published by the editor’s of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, I turned to p. 29 – a favorite zucchini recipe. It’s a classic scoop-dump-stir-bake recipe – from start-to-table, a loaf can be cranked out in under 3 hours, hence, a “quick” bread.

My Not-So-Quick-Version

My revised version soaks the freshly-ground/sifted grains (I use a Retsel stone-wheel mill) with the yogurt, lemon juice and zucchini for 12 hours.

This is the step that makes this into a NOT-so-quick bread.

BUT, it is also the step that makes it oh-so-worth it! After this 12-hour soak, the recipe returns to quick-bread techniques.

Zucchini in the Soak!

I’ve added another twist – mixing the shredded zucchini with the 12-hour flour, yogurt and lemon juice mixture. The zucchini brings its own unique lactic acids (a good thing!) to the mixture, increasing the nutritional benefits. Zucchini also brings moisture which helps to hydrate the flour. THAT can also be a problem, turning breads mushy, never a tasty treat.

Our zucchini is bursting at the seams with water, as its been raining nearly non-stop since May. I tested to see just how moist they were, cutting one open, pressing with my thumb, and watching to see if water-droplets formed.

  • If it takes a lot of force, you probably don’t need to be concerned with excess moisture.
  • If water bubbles-up around your thumb, as it did with my zucchini, macerating them would be a wise move.

Normally, macerating is used to infuse a food – berries, stone-fruit or rhubarb – with flavor using a sugar-syrup combined with a liqueur, resulting in a topping or sauce.

In this case, macerating extracts excess water from the zucchini. After 30-minutes, I gave the shredded, macerating zucchini a couple of very gentle pats with a clean towel – NOT enough to release more liquid, but just enough to pat off surface water, and then threw it into the flour mixture.

Finally! We Bake!

This morning, over 12-hours later, I gave the flour-zucchini mixture one quick stir. I then whisked the remaining ingredients together, folded them into the zucchini/flour mixture, poured it all into a prepared pan, baked, and Voila!

My not-so-quick, but absolutely healthier bread, was cooling on the rack by the time my slumbering zucchini-hating teen awoke – more on that in a second…..!

Other changes I’ve made to the original recipe include:

  • Reduced sugar to a mere 1/2-cup (can’t imagine eating 1 1/2 cups!)
  • Added grated zest of 1 whole lemon (flavor burst!)
  • Added 1/2-cup organic chocolate chips (you could also use fresh blueberries, but if you do, replace the lemon zest and juice with lime – lime and blueberries are a great combo!)

The chocolate-chip addition was meant to entice my zucchini-hating teen into trying a bite. It was a hit! “But only, Mom, if there are always chocolate chips…..”

It is assumed all ingredients are organic, or chemical-free, with dairy and eggs from grass-fed and pastured animals.

Bread Photo
Healthy Soaked-Grain Zucchini-Chocolate Not-So-Quick Bread

STEP 1 – Night Before Baking

  • 1 pound zucchini, shredded,
  • 2 T sugar (for macerating zucchini if excess moisture!)

  • 2 cups flour (use all white whole-wheat from King Arthur or grind your own – I use my own blend of whole-wheat pastry, kamut, spelt)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (or lime, if you replace chocolate chips with fresh blueberries)

STEP 2 – Morning Baking

  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of one whole lemon OR one whole lime (organic!)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

STEP 1 Instructions

  1. Shred zucchini and combined with 2 T sugar; place in fine-gauge sieve over a bowl for 30-minutes; sugar will pull water from zucchini
  2. With a clean kitchen towel (or hands) gently press water from zucchini – don’t be overzealous; 3 or 4 gentle squeezes should do it – your intent is to remove the water already drawn out, and not to squeeze more from the cells
  3. Fold zucchini, ground flour, yogurt and lemon juice in a glass bowl, cover with towel; set aside overnight

STEP 2 Instructions

  1. The next morning, adjust oven rack to middle position; preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Generously coat a 9 × 5 inch glass loaf pan with coconut oil, lard, or red palm oil.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together ALL “Step 2” ingredients – sugar through melted butter.
  4. Gently fold zucchini/flour mixture into egg/spice mixture, adding chocolate chips, just until combined.
  5. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  6. Bake 30-minutes.
  7. REDUCE OVEN to 300°F, continue baking another 15-30 minutes until golden brown and toothpick, or bamboo skewer, inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. The length of baking time will depend on the moisture content of the zucchini.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour.
  9. Freezes well! Bread can be wrapped in parchment paper and stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Variations
Replace shredded zucchini with shredded carrots; substitute golden raisins for chocolate chips.

Replace shredded zucchini with shredded peel-on organic apples; substitute dried cranberries for chocolate chips.

Replace shredded zucchini with blueberries; use lime juice in place of lemon; keep the chocolate chips as they’re a perfect pairing with blueberries.